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In a blog post, CEO Carrie Wheeler said the NAR deal and rule changes would be a boon for the company: “We’ve never been so optimistic about the future.”

In the wake of the recent NAR commissions settlement, industry reactions have been mixed, with many real estate professionals expressing concern or uncertainty. But some — like Opendoor CEO Carrie Wheeler — are optimistic about the future of residential real estate. 

In a recent blog post on the company's website, Wheeler shared her upbeat perspective on the settlement, asserting that the iBuying giant was "built for this" future.

What Opendoor had to say: In her blog post, Wheeler said the outcome of the commissions lawsuits and NAR settlement "could be great for consumers" in helping to "pave the way for greater access to homeownership in America." 

Additionally, she said that after compensation rule changes go into effect in July, the new residential real estate environment could provide an "opportunity for Opendoor to make tremendous strides in achieving our mission of powering life's progress, one move at a time" — or in other words, it could help boost the company's bottom line. 

"Selling and buying a home has been opaque, complex and riddled with uncertainties for too many consumers," Wheeler wrote. "We've never been so optimistic about the future. What's great for consumers is great for Opendoor and our partners in the industry."

Why is the settlement good for consumers? Wheeler said the rule changes coming out of the settlement — specifically the elimination of offers of compensation in the MLS — would be good for consumers.

"Going forward, consumers who are selling will have more flexibility to negotiate commission rates below the standard 6%," she wrote. "This is a seismic shift towards giving consumers more transparency and choice, principles central to how we've built our business and aligned with our values of providing consumers with certainty, simplicity and control."

Being able to negotiate compensation could ultimately mean cost-savings for sellers, she said, highlighting that "Americans pay some of the highest standard commissions in the world — roughly $100 billion annually."

How is the settlement good for Opendoor? Wheeler called out several potential benefits for Opendoor following the NAR deal.

She anticipates real estate transition costs will go down, freeing up more consumers to move — and potentially use Opendoor's services: "Opendoor will be at the center of this transition to a more liquid and lower-fee market," she wrote. 

And if transaction costs decline, she added, "Opendoor will be able to lower the spreads we charge and offer higher cash proceeds to sellers at the same margin." 

Additionally, Wheeler predicts the market will see more off-MLS deals where buyers and sellers transact directly. "Opendoor has been building this future for the last ten years, and we are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this change, including via our marketplace," she wrote.

Housing costs are outpacing median household incomes in the U.S., further straining affordability.

Would-be homebuyers need to earn $113,520 a year to afford the typical house in the U.S. That is 35% more than what the typical household earns annually, which is $84,072, according to a new analysis by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage site.

“Since the pandemic, affordability has just totally collapsed,” said Chen Zhao, a senior economist at Redfin. 

February 2021 was the last month when the typical household earned more money than it needed to afford the median home. There’s been a deficit ever since, Zhao said.

“That deficit hit a peak in October of 2023,” she added. “The reason why it hit a peak then is because that’s when mortgage rates peaked as well.”

Meanwhile, home prices also remained high because of an inventory crunch: the median sale price for a house was $412,778 in February 2024, according to Redfin.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, sets the standard of affordability at 30% of household income.

Affordability deficit narrowed in February

The average household fell short $29,448 to afford a home in February, according to Redfin. In October 2023, households were short by $40,810. At that time, buyers needed an average income of $120,500 to afford a home.

The affordability deficit narrowed because mortgage rates have been on a consistent decline since the last peak in October, according to Zhao. At that peak, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit 8% for the first time since 2000.

“It’s been a pretty big change since last October,” Zhao said. 

Other reasons such as seasonal pricing may be reflected, as home prices tend to decline in the winter months, said Jeff Ostrowski, a housing analyst at Bankrate.

However, potential buyers are still on the sidelines, said Veronica Fuentes, a certified financial planner at Northwestern Mutual.

“They’re either holding off or they’re taking their time,” she said.

Recent layoffs in the technology industry have affected some of her clients’ attitudes, Fuentes said. While her clients may not be on the chopping block, seeing their co-workers get laid off has made many of them more cautious.

“If you were laid off, could you still afford this mortgage? Do you have six months [of] emergency savings or even a year [of] emergency savings? ... Can you still afford the mortgage for six months if you have no job?” Fuentes said.

The Biden administration moved this week to limit how much rent can rise in certain affordable housing units across the country.

While some housing experts criticized the move, tenant advocates said the new rule, which will cap rent increases at 10%, will help people to stay in their homes.

“The rent is still too damn high, but this cap will provide stability to more than a million tenants,” said Tara Raghuveer, the director of the National Tenant Union Federation.

However, Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO Bob Broeksmit said capping rent increases would only worsen the housing-affordability crisis.

“Rent control has consistently proven to be a failed policy that discourages new construction, distorts market pricing, and leads to a degradation of the quality of rental housing — the exact opposite of what is currently needed in markets throughout the country,” Broeksmit said.

Here’s what renters should know about the new protection, which was announced on April 1 and is now in effect.

Who qualifies for the new cap?

The cap applies to units that receive funding from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the nation’s largest federal affordable housing program, according to experts. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimates that around 2.6 million rental homes across the U.S. have current LIHTC rent and income restrictions.

To learn if you are in such a unit, you can look on your lease — check for the word “tax credit” or the letters “LIHTC” — or ask your landlord, said Shamus Roller, the executive director of the National Housing Law Project.

You can also ask your state housing agency, he said.

Some agencies have an interactive map and a list of all LIHTC properties available on their website, Roller said.

Another option is to ask your local recorder’s office for documentation.

“All LIHTC properties are subject to a regulatory agreement that must be recorded against the property,” he added.

There is also a LIHTC public database, but housing advocates warned it was outdated. A tenant could also check with the National Housing Preservation Database.

How much can my rent go up?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses income limits each year to calculate the maximum amount of rent that an owner can charge a LIHTC tenant, according to the National Housing Law Project.

These assessments are complicated, but under the new rule the annual rent increases, going forward, shouldn’t exceed 10% on eligible units, according to the National Housing Law Project.

This will help “keep seniors, families with children, people with disabilities and the lowest-income tenants in their homes,” Roller said.

What if my landlord tries to raise my rent by more?

If a tenant suspects that their landlord is ignoring the new rules, they should alert their property owner to the government’s updated policy and provide them with a copy of the official HUD announcement, Roller said.

“This policy can be difficult to understand and explain, so we highly recommend that tenants contact their local free legal services provider to help determine if the cap applies to them and if so, challenge unlawful rent hikes,” he added.

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